NEW PUBLICATION: Violence and Insecurity in Guerrero

February 5, 2015

By Chris Kyle

Resilient Communities Series15This paper is a continuation of the series Building Resilient Communities in Mexico: Civic Responses to Crime and Violence, a multiyear effort by the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Justice in Mexico Project at the University of San Diego to analyze the obstacles to and opportunities for improving citizen security in Mexico.

Insecurity and violence associated with organized criminal activity are pervasive in Mexico’s southern state of Guerrero.  The state’s homicide rate is the highest in the country and extortion and kidnapping are commonplace.  For perpetrators, there is near complete impunity.  The state is divided into territories within which either drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) or community policing networks exercise control over local policing functions.  Local, state, or federal authorities occasionally join this competition, but for the most part policing powers are held by others.  In rural areas competition between groups of traffickers over the state’s prodigious narcotics output has created violent no-man’s-lands in buffer zones between territories controlled by rival groups.  In cities violence is mostly a byproduct of efforts to establish and preserve monopolies in extortion, kidnapping, and retail contraband markets.  Despite claims to the contrary by state and federal authorities, there has been no discernible improvement in public security in recent months or years.

Restraining the violence in Guerrero will require that state authorities make a systematic effort to address two existing realities that sustain the criminal activities producing violence.  Thus, this paper examines the security situation in the state of Guerrero, including the operation of drug trafficking organizations, and proposes possible solutions to the security crisis.

Read the paper here.


New Report Examines Tamaulipas Security Strategy

February 2, 2015

1/27/2015 InSight Crime

A report from a prominent think tank tackles the new security strategy in Tamaulipas, one of Mexico‘s perennially conflictive northern states. 

The Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute published Plan Tamaulipas: A New Security Strategy for a Troubled State in October of last year. Written by Christopher Wilson and Eugenio Weigend, the report analyzes a new security program launched by President Enrique Peña Nieto’s government in May 2014.

The new strategy came amid a period of prolonged conflict between the two major criminal groups controlling the region, allies turned enemies the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel. The plan for Tamaulipas is based on three pillars: the dismantling of existing criminal groups; the elimination of smuggling routes, whether for cash and arms coming into Mexico or for drugs and undocumented migrants heading to the US; and the construction of “sufficient, efficient, and reliable” security agencies at the local level.

Read more…

Read the report here. 


In Mexico, History is Repeating Itself

January 16, 2015

By Tim Padgett, 1/15/2015

Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images

Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images

When Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto visited President Obama on Jan. 6, hundreds of Mexican Americans demonstrated outside the White House. Hundreds more picketed at Mexican consulates across the U.S. It was an unusual display of solidarity with Mexicans south of the border, who have taken to the streets almost daily since September—when 43 college students were massacred by narco-gangsters—to denounce corruption and violence in their country.

Peña Nieto’s approval rating, which hovered above 60 percent two years ago, has plummeted into the 30s as marchers call for his resignation. That’s a dramatic fall considering how ardently U.S. and international boosters lionized him when he took office in December 2012. Then, it seemed like every financial gazette on the planet was declaring Peña Nieto’s Mexico “the Aztec Tiger.” New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman said it was poised to become a “more dominant economic power in the 21st century” than China.

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Obama Pledges Mexico’s Pena Nieto Drugs Support

January 9, 2015

1/6/2015 BBC News

President Obama visits Mexico President Enrique Pena NietoPresident Barack Obama has promised the US will stand alongside Mexico in its fight against drug-related violence.

The vow came after talks with President Enrique Pena Nieto in the White House, in which the two discussed the recent disappearance of 43 Mexican students.

The US president said his country would be a “good partner” to its neighbour in the fight against drugs and associated problems.

“Our commitment is to be a friend and supporter of Mexico in its efforts to eliminate the scourge of violence and drug cartels that are responsible for so many tragedies inside of Mexico,” he said.

Read more…


Ciudad Juárez, a Border City Known for Killing, Gets Back to Living

December 16, 2013

The New York Times, 12/14/2013

cuidad juarezWith violence down to a quarter of its peak, Ciudad Juárez, a perennial symbol of drug war devastation, is experiencing what many here describe as a boom. New restaurants pop up weekly, a few with a hipster groove. Schools and homes in some neighborhoods are gradually filling again, while new nightclubs throb on weekends with wall-to-wall teenagers and 20-somethings who insist on reclaiming the freedom to work and play without being consumed by worry.

Critics here fear that the changes are merely cosmetic, and there is still disagreement over what, exactly, has led to the drastic drop in violence. Some attribute it to an aggressive detention policy by the police; others say the worst killers have died or fled, or that the Sinaloa drug cartel has simply defeated its rivals, leaving a peace of sorts that could quickly be undone.

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The country where exorcisms are on the rise

November 27, 2013

BBC News, 11/25/2013

ChurchTo some it may seem extraordinary, but priests say the country is under attack by Satan, and that more exorcists are needed to fight him. This attack, they say, is showing itself in the gruesome drug-related violence, including human sacrifice, that has engulfed the country since 2006.

“We believe that behind all these big and structural evils there is a dark agent and his name is The Demon. That is why the Lord wants to have here a ministry of exorcism and liberation, for the fight against the Devil,” says Father Carlos Triana, a priest, and an exorcist, in Mexico City.

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Mexico extradites top cartel member

November 22, 2013

San Antonio Express, 11/21/2013

Mexican Police catch drug dealer photo by Jesús Villaseca P Latitudes PressMexico extradited an alleged former top member of the Zetas drug cartel Thursday to face narcotics trafficking and money laundering charges in Laredo, a former Drug Enforcement Administration agent said.

Officials with the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Attorney’s Office would not confirm or deny Thursday afternoon that Iván Velázquez Caballero, known by the nickname “El Taliban,” had been sent to the U.S. But Mike Vigil, the former chief of international operations for the DEA, said Velazquez is now in the country.

Velázquez is one of more than 30 people charged in a massive conspiracy indictment, alleging that, between 2000 and 2008, the Zetas smuggled large amounts of drugs into the U.S. and committed homicides in Texas as part of their narcotics trafficking operations.

Read more…


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